06 July 2009 | Jake Kanter
The Forum of Private Business has lambasted Rok for doubling the time it takes to pay suppliers.
The FPB slung Rok into its "hall of shame" after the construction company extended its payment terms on new contracts from 30 to 60 days.
Rok stressed the arrangement would only apply to future deals and added the "vast majority" of suppliers were already being paid in 60 days.
The FPB's director of finance and administration Nick Palin said: "Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the slump in the construction sector. It is not reasonable for big businesses to pass on costs incurred via changes to payment terms and conditions further down the supply chain."
He urged Rok to sign up to the government's Prompt Payment Code.
One FPB member, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "There's no doubt that many smaller sub-contractors and their suppliers will struggle as a result of this move, but speaking out will simply result in Rok refusing to work with them again. It's a no-win situation."
A Rok spokesperson said: "Rok is not changing its payment terms in respect of existing contracts, but has said that any new arrangements with subcontractors will be negotiated on the basis that our standard terms are now 60 days. In fact the vast majority of our suppliers are already paid on these terms, which are in line with the majority of our industry.
"Clearly it is not in our interests to upset or disadvantage our supply chain partners with whom we have excellent relationships."